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Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Representing the 43rd District of California

Rep. Waters Urges Senate to Reject DeVos’ Nomination for Secretary of Education

January 23, 2017
Press Release

Washington D.C. - Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters issued the following statement on the hearing to consider the nomination of Betsy DeVos for secretary of education, which took place on January 18:

“It is clear from Betsy DeVos’ confirmation hearing last week that she not only lacks commitment and faith in America’s public schools, but also lacks the experience necessary to serve them. Following questioning from several Senators, Betsy DeVos was not forthcoming about whether schools receiving federal funding should meet the accountability standards established under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act, which is an obligation she did not know federal law required states to comply with. She refused to commit to uphold current Title IX guidelines on sexual assaults on college campuses, and she refused to commit to not privatizing public schools.

“Betsy DeVos, who testified that she has no practical or meaningful experience in the public education system, who has never attended any public primary, secondary or post-secondary school, and whose children have never been enrolled in a public school, is incredibly unprepared to run the Department of Education’s elementary and secondary school programs. In fact, Betsy DeVos’ most well established experience in education policy stems from a long record of financing and lobbying for policies favoring the privatization of public schools, which sends necessary tax funding away from students who need it most. In her home state of Michigan, Betsy DeVos is best known for propping up charter schools, which sometimes operate on a for-profit basis and have a mixed record of success. In 1999, Betsy DeVos and her husband both asserted that the school choice agenda would fundamentally improve education, but despite their vast efforts in Michigan and untold millions spent in the state, Michigan’s charter schools perform worse on national tests in reading and math than Michigan’s public schools, which also do not perform very well.

Unlike previous secretaries of education, Betsy DeVos has never served as a teacher, school administrator or school system leader. Neither has she previously served in public office. Instead of genuinely committing her time to actually educating students or helping teachers, Betsy DeVos has — by her own admission — bought influence through massive political donations to advance her policy agenda.

“Furthermore, having never applied for student loans for herself or for her children, she is equally unqualified to run the department’s $1 trillion dollar student loan bank. Betsy DeVos failed to provide any detail on how to protect students from predatory, fraudulent for-profit colleges and universities, which for decades have allowed institutions like Trump University, ITT Tech, and Corinthian Colleges to cheat students from their funds while saddling them with insurmountable debt.

Our children, teachers and parents deserve better and I urge my colleagues in the Senate to reject Betsy DeVos.”